Home > Checkmate This is Love (The Checkmate Duet #2)

Checkmate This is Love (The Checkmate Duet #2)
Author: Kennedy Fox

CHAPTER ONE

TRAVIS

Ten hours earlier...

I press my palms into my eyes and exhale deeply.

I cannot lose control. I cannot lose control.

I wish I’d told Viola what happened at work and talked to her about it instead of shutting down. Not that there’d be anything she could do, but she’s always been a great listener, even when she was being the biggest pain in my ass. When we were kids, she always made time to listen to my ramblings. I didn’t speak to my parents much, about anything, and had learned to keep most of my feelings buried inside. Being real and open felt natural with Viola.

That was before I fucked it all up and hurt her.

I should just call it a night and go to bed, but I’m too restless, thinking about that bitch, Alyssa. Which makes me think of fucking Blake, who ripped my dream of moving up in the company away from me, but I won’t go down without a fight.

I decide I should probably eat something, but I hadn't gone grocery shopping since before Drew left and he isn’t home tonight, so that leaves me with limited options.

Ramen noodles or PB&J on moldy bread.

Wrinkling my nose, I shut the cupboard and grab my car keys. I need to clear my head.

I take a drive down the highway, heading out of town, blaring my stereo with the windows rolled down. The evening breeze feels good, and the music numbs my mind. I allow the pavement to lead the way.

Hours later, I end up just outside of Sacramento and stop at a diner that’s open twenty-four hours. It looks old and run-down, but I’m ready to chew my damn arm off so I can’t be too picky.

Once I find a booth, I order a cup of coffee and some water. The sounds of clanking silverware and late night chatter fill the diner. There are only a handful of people at the counter—who look to be truck drivers—and a few couples sitting in the other booths. I shouldn’t be surprised at this time of night, though.

The waitress comes back with my drinks and then takes my order of pancakes and bacon. She barely looks up from her writing pad as she scribbles it down, and walks away before I can hand back the menu.

Tempted to text Viola and make sure she’s okay, I stop myself and decide I’d rather talk to her in person about it all. I don’t know what we’re going to do now that Drew is home early, and although I’ve broken the bro code by banging my best friend’s little sister, I don’t want him to find out from anyone besides me. Knowing I owe him that, at least, we need to figure out how we’re going to tell him. Or what I’m going to tell him.

The truth is, Viola and I aren’t a couple. We have a history—a damaged one—but nevertheless, a history that has bound us together since we were kids. The more I think about it, the more I want to punch myself for every sting I blew her way. She hadn’t deserved it, most of the time, but she made sure to give it right back.

That’s what I love most about her. She’s never taken my shit, and she’s the only girl to challenge me at every damn opportunity. Perhaps that’s what kept the fire burning all these years, but I’m done playing those games. I lost her as one of my best friends all those years ago, and I’ll be damned if I lose her again.

The waitress drops my plates in front of me and mutters that she’ll be back to refill my coffee. I pour the syrup over my pancakes and begin cutting into them when I hear a familiar voice behind me.

I turn my head slightly, listening again. It can’t be.

“You jackass! You can’t just leave me here!”

“Get off me, you crazy bitch!”

The voice is definitely one I’ve heard before. Panic sets in as I set my fork down and slide out of the booth. Then I see her familiar face and curse under my breath.

Mia Fucking Montgomery.

She’s arguing with a guy as she pulls on his leather jacket. She’s crying and pleading with him, but he just pushes her off and walks out the door. I’m shocked to see her here, especially with someone else. It flat-out bothers the shit out of me, considering she and Drew broke up only days ago.

“You’re a fucking asshole, Will!” she calls out, rushing behind him through the door in a skimpy little dress.

I’m quick to follow as I call out her name. “Mia, stop!” I grab her elbow and turn her around. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Travis?” Her eyes widen. “Holy shit! Thank God you’re here!” She wraps her body around my arm and cries even harder. It’s awkward as hell, but I don’t push her away.

“Oh, look. It took you less than thirty seconds to latch onto another guy,” Will yells. “Enjoy her, dude. She’s as easy as she looks.”

“Screw you, motherfucker!” she shouts, and it takes me a moment to recognize the guy she’s screaming at. Will Tamer.

“All right, man. That’s enough. Just go. I’ll make sure she gets back safely.”

He laughs. “Don’t fucking care.”

I see red again at the way he’s yelling at her; it takes every ounce of my being to keep my feet planted on the ground. The way he’s treating her is way too reminiscent of how my father treated my mother all those years. Regardless of how much of a bitch Mia’s been to Drew, I’m not okay with any guy talking to a woman like that.

“She’s just another typical attention whore. Just wanted to use me as a way to get her fifteen minutes of fame.”

“Oh right, Will, because a sex tape is so unusual today. That’s exactly what I was doing because I definitely didn’t sleep with you for your three-inch dick. Would be such a shame for the entire world to know that the only thing Will Tamer is packing is sugar-free gum and expired condoms.”

“Mia,” I hiss, warning her to shut her mouth. The sooner he leaves, the sooner I can get her out of here.

“What did you say, bitch?” He takes a step toward us, ready to get in her face, but I don’t care who he is, there’s no way I’m letting him touch her. The vile way he’s talking to her makes my fists clench.

“Just let it go, man.” I hold my hand up, blocking Mia behind me. “She runs her mouth a lot, but she’s harmless.” I try to diffuse the situation. The last thing I need is to get into another fight, but he’s not taking the bait.

“Fuck off, little mama’s boy.” He pushes a finger directly into my chest, and now I’m seething. Will Tamer isn’t someone I’d want to fight on one of my best days. He’s a world champion fighter, and he’s built like a fucking rock. Everyone in Northern California knows about Will Tamer, and only a dumbass would throw the first punch.

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